Rajya Sabha panel on GST has 1st meeting

A Rajya Sabha committee on the constitutional amendment Bill regarding a national goods and services tax (GST) met on Friday and heard Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das.It also decided to tour some states to talk to other stakeholders and experts.The committee is likely to call experts such as Vijay Kelkar, Y V Reddy, Govinda Rao and Sumit Dutt Majumdar at its next meeting this month, sources said .Das explained in detail the differences between the Bill brought by the present government and its predecessor; the latter had already been examined by the standing committee on finance.Some of the differences include the way petroleum is to be treated in the proposed regime. While the 2011 Bill sought to keep it out of GST, the new one seeks to include it in the indirect tax regime, even as the new tax will not be levied on it.While states would continue to impose value- added tax on petroleum, the Centre would levy excise duty till the time the proposed GST Council decides on a rate. Then, the previous Bill had a provision that the council would take decisions through a consensus. The new one says decisions will be arrived at by a three fourth majority. Later, the revenue secretary tweeted, “ We are working overtime to introduce GST from April 1, 2016.” Committee members by consensus decided on meeting state representatives as “they are the main stake holders”.The panel is headed by the Bharatiya Janata Partys Bhupender Yadav. It seems likely to go to Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. At each city, representatives from neighbouring states will be called to put across their views.A committee member said Tamil Nadu openly opposes the GST, while Gujarat continues to be problematic.He said the Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel sought to stay away from discussions when tobacco is taken up. Patel’s family owns CeeJay Group, one of the country’s biggest bidi and tobacco- derivative businesses. – www.business-standard.com

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